Bouncing Bow at all Tempi

  • To control a slow bounce bow stroke, accelerate, and transition to a fast bounce, sautillé (hop or jump in French).
  • Experiment with all of these interrelated factors until you have the sound you want: how high or low is the bounce, how flat or steep is the arc of the stroke, how long or short is your desired sound?
  • The louder you play, the closer to the string and the longer the bow hair must contact the string. Bouncing the bow, particularly at fast tempi, does not work near the bridge (even in forte passages.)
  • For sautillé, full hair helps the bow to bounce.
  • Many fine players do the sautillé bounce as a wrist and finger stroke. This works well at faster tempi, though in my experience, it is more difficult to control varying speeds. This technique is not discussed in this lesson.
  • Find the bounce point for a slow bounce in the lower part of the bow.  The motion is a whole arm swing that comes from the “ball and socket” shoulder joint each time the bow brushes the string. Your wrist and fingers provide subtlety and sensitivity to the whole arm motion by sensing and responding to the feel of the string.
  • The bounce point for fast bouncing sautillé is in the middle of the bow; find the area where the stick has its greatest spring and elasticity. The sautillé stroke comes not from your shoulder but from your forearm.
  • An overly tight grip in sautillé causes a stiff wrist, and usually blocks the springing action. Too loose a bow hold makes a floppy, uneven motion. Over-pressing the index finger can also block the spring.
  • Match the sound of your up-bows and down-bows. Listen for the same quality of attack and release, and match the note lengths and the volume. Avoid down-bows sounding longer, heavier and louder.
  • Listen for even rhythmic spacing between the notes. Avoid the up-bow coming early, too close to the down-bow.


Sautillé needs enough downward weight to activate the springiness of the bow stick and set the rebound in motion — Like a bouncing ball, throw it down – it will come up by itself. Paul Katz

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